Friday, January 13, 2017

Fire Roasted Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Here's a recipe that we came up with when my sister was visiting in November for one of our BBQ competitions.  We bought our competition butts and spare ribs from Sam's because they had started carrying Smithfield Prime Reserve. I noticed that they also had the tenderloins so I grabbed a pack of those as well.  

It was the day after the competition and we wanted to have a little fun with the tenderloins for dinner - nothing too crazy, just something drastically different than BBQ.

Stuffed pork tenderloin featuring Smithfield Prime pork

Pork Tenderloins Expand Your Options

I often use pork tenderloins in the kitchen and out at the grills.  Why? For several reasons.

  • Pork tenderloin has a mild, neutral taste which gives the chef a lot of freedom for choosing flavor profiles.
  • Pork tenderloin can be prepared in many different configurations.  I can serve it as a whole roast, cut it into filet, cut it into medallions, cut it into strips for pinwheels, or flatten it out for a roulade like I did for this recipe.
  • Pork tenderloin is one of the leaner cuts of pork for those counting fat calories.
  • Pork tenderloin is quick cooking so I get it on the table faster.

Speaking of options, yes you can cook this under the broiler in your oven instead of on the grill.  Sure, you can swap out ingredients.  Don't have pizza sauce? Use marinara sauce.  Do whatever you want, it's all about exploring.  

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Published 01/13/2017


  • whole pork tenderloin, trimmed and butterflied or spiral sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, rinsed
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese curds
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 7-8 pieces kitchen twine, 10" long
  • 1 tablespoon high temp oil
  • 1 cup roasted garlic pizza sauce
For the seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon zest (optional)


  1. Set up your grill for direct heat and preheat it to 400°f (Medium High). 
  2. Butterfly the tenderloin.  See notes.
  3. Mix together the seasoning ingredients.  Use a little more than half to season the top half of the butterflied pork tenderloin.  Reserve the rest for seasoning the outside later.
  4. Assemble the roast.  Layer the spinach on top of the tenderloin, leaving a 1 1/2" gap on one side.  On the opposite side, layer the sun dried tomatoes and cheese curds in a row against the edge (see pictures).  Use both hands and roll the cheese curd edge towards the exposed edge like a jelly roll.  Lay the strings about and inch a part and put the roast seam down on top of the strings. Tie the strings and cut off the excess.
  5. Lightly coat the outside of the roast with oil and season with the remaining seasoning.
  6. Place the roast on the grill and cook for 24-27 minutes, turning every few minutes.  Meanwhile, heat your pizza sauce.
  7. Temp check the meat to make sure it is 145°f and allow to rest for at least three minutes. (That's FDA recommendations.  Honestly, I pull it at 140°f.)
  8. Remove the strings and then slice about 3/4" thick.  Plate the slices on top of a smear of the pizza sauce. 
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 27 mins.
Total time: 0 hrs. 47 mins.

I first found out about Smithfield Prime at the American Royal last year (which Smithfield took over as title sponsor this year, kind of a big deal!). Smithfield sponsored my trip there to be a part of the event and cover their Hog Wild Throwdown on social media. The hospitality tent was serving the Prime line and I was pretty impressed with the results.
Smithfield Prime spare ribs at the American Royal
What is so special about Prime? First, it's a label, NOT a grade.  But it is special.
  • The Prime line is all natural and a part of the USDA's Process Verification Program.  
  • It is 20% more tender than other brands in the non-enhanced (injected, etc) category.  
  • But what I like is that this is a premium pork, a Duroc blend.  Smithfield has their own line of Duroc hogs and they are the sires for the hogs used for the Prime line of pork.  

Smithfield Prime Reserve pork tenderloins are 20% more tender than non-enhanced competitors.  Better pork, less junk.
I noticed that our local Sam's Club started carrying Smithfield Prime Reserve in mid-November.  I asked my contact who advised that it is the same pork as the Smithfield Prime.

How to trim a pork tenderloin using a Victorinox boning knife with fibrox handle and flexible blade.
On the far left is an untrimmed tenderloin.  The one on the right, I have removed the silverskin and any excessive fat.  I also trimmed tip off and around the other end to make the roast even.  I cut those scraps up for stir fri, sausage, or things like that. A sharp boning knife does wonders.  That is an Amazon Affiliate link but this is my favorite boning knife - I have 2 others that both cost 3 times as much.  The Victorinox flexible blade has just won me over.  It's also popular with meat cutters and prep chefs.

tips and tricks for spiral slicing or butterfly cut a pork tenderloin from Smithfield
To start, I place my knife down next to the tenderloin.  The gap between board and blade, caused by the handle, is just the height at which I want to begin.  Again, sharpen and hone your knife before doing this.  It is so easy with a sharp knife.  With a dull one, it's a pain.

How to butterfly a pork tenderloin from Smithfield Prime Reserve
Cut a straight line almost all of the way across like this and then stop about  1/2" from the edge.

Spiral slicing a pork tenderloin from Smithfield Prime Reserve
Flip the top half over and start cutting through that piece the same way, opening it up flat.

How to stuff a pork tenderloin for grilling, roasting, or broiling.
Place plastic wrap above and below the meat and finish flattening it out evenly with a meat mallet.

Step by step instructions for stuffing pork tenderloin
Here's how to stack the stuffing, leaving the edge exposed.  You will start rolling from the right, curling tightly over the curds, and keep rolling.
I use cheese curds for 2 reasons....wait, make that 3 reasons.

  • I just love them.  
  • They give a good shape for getting the roll started tightly and firmly.  
  • They don't seem to melt out of the ends of the roast as sliced or shredded cheese likes to do. 
Because of that, if I couldn't get cheese curds, I'd take shredded cheese and squeeze it into pieces the size of curds.

How to stuff pork tenderloin for grilling, roasting, and broiling.
All tied up and ready to go.

Ceramic kamado grills, like Grill Dome and BGE, are all weather grills and smokers.
For this cook, I was using my kamado grills, specifically the Big Green Egg on the right.  It was the coldest day of the year, think we got down to 7°f that night.  Ceramic kamado grills can handle ridiculous weather.  Pork tenderloins are small enough that you can do them on small grills like a BGE Mini-Max.

How to use mojobricks for a kamado grill
I wanted to put a little wood in the grill for extra smoke flavor but all of my wood chunks are on the trailer in storage and my logs downstairs were snow covered and wet. Fortunately I had some Mojobricks (hickory) leftover from Memphis In May.  I cut them with a saw so they were basically Mojobricks Mini's at that point and put one in the kamado grill.  They may look like MDF but they are just wood pieces and lignin - a natural binder in wood.

Kick Ash Basket is a great tool for grilling on a kamado grill like a Kamado Joe, Big Green Egg, or Vision Grill.
Since the Mojobrick products are dense, in a kamado grill, placement is key.  Place it too far from the lit coals and it might not even get lit for a few hours (which can be useful in longer cooks).  This was a brief cook so I made sure the one that I put in was near an ignition point.  This is in a Kick Ash Basket in a large BGE.

fire roasted stuffed pork tenderloin on a large Big Green Egg
Two stuffed tenderloins just after going onto the Big Green Egg.  Leave them for about 5 minutes and then start turning every 3-4 minutes until done. 

How to grill stuffed pork tenderloins and how to cook pork tenderloins on a Big Green Egg.
I put the sauce on in the last few minutes, just to warm up. Don't worry if a little of your cheese melts out at the end, most is staying in there.

Stuffed pork tenderloin steaming hot
Yeah, it was a little cold out (about 20°f) so these steamed up a good bit when they came off.  

Techniques, tips and tricks for grilling pork tenderloin:  Rest it on a raise rack to avoid moisture loss.
As always, rest your cooked meats on a raised rack to help even cooling and minimize moisture loss.
Sliced fire roasted stuffed pork tenderloin featuring Smithfield Prime pork
Sliced and ready to serve! 

Stuffed pork tenderloin recipe for the big green egg.
Close up of the slices, look how nicely cooked these are.  And even though it was a hot and fast cook, the tenderloins still got a slight "smoke ring" around the edges.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post.  However here is clarification on any mentions.

  • Smithfield - I attended two events hosted by Smithfield in 2016, travel included, but don't have any kind of endorsement deal, pay for content, or anything like that.
  • Victorinox - I paid for my knives, but love the brand.  Just ask to look in my knife bag at a contest and you'll see my 4 main ones are Victorinox with the Fibrox handles.  
  • Mojobricks - These were the last of the leftovers from Memphis In May last year.
  • Kick Ash Basket - Got the first one as a sample and ended up buying 4 more for our other kamados.